All about: Kincora boys home cover-up


Kincora scandal papers show links to ‘men in high places’


The scale of child abuse and its cover-up at the Kincora children’s home in Belfast is still unclear. The scandal is referred to in several files released by the Northern Ireland Public Record Office under the 30-year rule. 

However, the files have been redacted with key papers removed—and one file couldn’t be found. 

Dozens of children were abused at Kincora, a children’s home in east Belfast. William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains were jailed in 1981 for the abuse.

But there have been suggestions of a mass cover-up by the Secret Service, which was rumoured to be protecting high-ranking paedophiles in the military, civil service and politics.

One file contains a note of a private meeting in February 1982 attended by senior members of the political and legal establishment.

 Attorney General Michael Havers, Secretary of State Jim Prior, Lord Chancellor Quintin Hogg and Sir William Bourne, a barrister and senior civil servant, were among those present.

According to the memo, Havers learned that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was investigating three separate aspects of the Kincora scandal.

“The first concerned a man…who in 1972 was falsely acquitted on the basis of perjured evidence; the file on his case has subsequently been destroyed by a bomb,” the memo reports.

Havers was also told how the man may have withheld information on a murder.

The body of ten year old Brian McDermott was discovered in a sack in the River Lagan in September 1973. No one was ever convicted of his killing. 

The meeting was told that information provided “conflicted with what the RUC had previously told ministers and officials”.

The RUC had been informed of the abuse at the home years earlier but did nothing. McGrath, who led an obscure loyalist paramilitary group called Tara, was on the payroll of MI5 and MI6. He travelled to South Africa and Rhodesia to buy arms for paramilitaries.

The British state was arming Loyalist thugs to help crush the resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland. 

When McGrath was convicted of repeated child abuse he boasted, “Never have I committed an act unbecoming to an Orangeman”.

A confidential government note in the files said: “It is claimed that influence was brought to bear on the police not to pursue their enquiries.”

It added, “There are persistent rumours that ‘guilty men’ in high places have not been brought to justice.”

March 2013

Police re-open child sex abuse investigation at Kincora boys home in Belfast

The probe will cover attacks on boys over two decades at the home in Northern Ireland – suspected to have been regularly visited by establishment figures

Police have reopened an investigation into child abuse at a notorious care home linked to claims of a cover-up by the secret service to protect top level perverts, the Sunday People reports.

The probe will cover attacks on boys over two decades at the Kincora home in Northern Ireland – suspected to have been regularly visited by establishment figures.

Sources told the investigative ­website Exaro that the Police Service of Northern Ireland is ­asking to interview former residents. Kincora was home to 168 boys aged 15 to 18 between 1963 and 1968.

Three senior care staff were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.

But it is feared there were many more victims and abusers.

Since the case there have been suggestions that paedophilia at Kincora was linked to Anglo-Irish relations and British intelligence services. There are ­unsubstantiated claims that visitors to the home in East Belfast included military, ­politicians and civil servants.

The PSNI returned to the Kincora files as a result of information ­received by a public inquiry launched last May into “historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland”.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is chairing the inquiry. It is looking at abuse in residential institutions in the province between 1922 and 1995 and is due to report in 2016. The new probe comes 28 years after a public inquiry chaired by Judge William Hughes ruled there had been no extensive ring of abusers centred on Kincora.

Three years earlier, in 1982, local politician Joshua Cardwell had committed suicide after being questioned over Kincora.

He was an East Belfast ­councillor who had chaired the committee responsible for children’s homes in the city.

Concerns over Kincora were raised in a 1996 book, which claimed one of the convicted child abusers, William McGrath, was an MI5 agent. The Kincora Scandal, by ex-BBC journalist Chris Moore, alleged prominent unionist McGrath had sickening sex attacks on kids covered up. The book said two police probes were obstructed by “the establishment” in Britain.


William McGrath on parade

McGrath, the housefather of Kincora, was dubbed “The Beast” by detectives. He was said to be leader of a shadowy paramilitary-style organisation of fanatical Protestants called Tara.

He was also said to be linked to senior unionist politicians, including Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, who officiated at the weddings of two of McGrath’s children.

Police were ­anonymously tipped off about McGrath a decade before his ­arrest. The call is ­alleged to have been made by a man who was also involved in the Orange Order and the Tara movement.

He fell out with McGrath and later repeatedly attempted to ­expose his involvement in Kincora.

In 1990 the BBC programme Public Eye claimed the man made allegations about McGrath in 1975. Those claims were passed to MI5, according to a former Army ­intelligence officer who was said to have been blocked from doing ­anything with the information.

Former Army press officer Colin Wallace (pictured below) , who was based in Belfast, has insisted the authorities knew boys were being abused at Kincora six years before they acted.


The home was opened in 1958 and run by health authorities. It closed in 1980 and three senior members of staff were suspended. They were later convicted of 23 sexual offences against 11 boys in their care between 1960 and 1980.

Joseph Mains, the warden at Kincora, and his deputy Raymond Semple both admitted all charges. McGrath denied the allegations but changed his plea at Belfast Crown Court. It was claimed in court that abuse took place in bedrooms, while boys were watching ­television, in the toilets and on the first floor landing.

McGrath,and Semple got four years each and Mains got six. McGrath continued to be the ­subject of speculation because of his links to religion and a loyalist Orange lodge. He died in 1991.

In a statement to Exaro and the Sunday People, a PSNI spokesman said: “There is currently a public inquiry on-going in relation to ­historical abuse. Individuals are being encouraged to contact Judge Hart, who is heading the inquiry.

“Where appropriate, his inquiry team will pass this information to the PSNI. The PSNI has received a number of referrals.”

Kincora Boys Home, Political Expediency of the Child, MI5 and a basketcase of Clockwork Oranges

The Kincora Boys’ Home was a home for working boys in Belfast that was the scene of a notorious child sex abuse scandal.

The Kincora boys’ home was a children’s home in Belfast that was the scene of a notorious child sex state cover-up orchestrated by vested political and strategic self-interest in the continued military and political occupation of the once sovereign province of Ulster.   

AMONG the hundreds of files from 1982 released at the Public Record Office in Belfast, there is no file on the Kincora scandal.

The serial abuse of boys at the home for orphans had emerged publicly in 1980 and the most notorious abuser, William McGrath, was jailed in December 1981.

The following month, January 1982, Secretary of State Jim Prior set up an inquiry, which was to sit in private, to investigate the Kincora scandal.

That investigation never got off the ground as just a month later three of the five inquiry members resigned because they felt that the RUC had not dealt with all the criminal matters surrounding what had gone on at the home.

However, despite McGrath, who was working for MI5, having had links to loyalist paramilitaries and the fact that there was enormous public interest and speculation about what had gone on, there is no file dedicated to Kincora or to the public inquiry set up by the NIO.

The scandal first came to public attention on 3rd April 1980, when three members of staff at the home, William McGrath a notorious sexual predator , Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, were charged with a number of offences relating to the systematic abuse of children in their care over a number of years.

The assaulted boys tried to bring the abuse to the attention of the authorities, including the police and the press, who failed them totally

Mains, the former warden, received a term of six years, Semple, a former assistant warden, five years and McGrath four years.

Allegations later emerged that the Royal Ulster Constabulary RUC had been informed of the goings-on at the home for years previously, but had not moved to prevent it, because the manager of the home, William McGrath, was also the leader of a loyalist paramilitary group, called Tara, and was being blackmailed by MI5 into providing intelligence on other so-called loyalist groups.

A “private inquiry” was set up in 1982 by James Prior, the Northern Ireland secretary to deal with these allegations, but it collapsed after three of its members resigned.

Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church which he founded in 1951, was accused of failing to report the fact of McGrath’s homosexuality to the relevant authorities although he initially denied ever being advised by his informant, a church member, Miss Valerie Shaw, that McGrath worked in a boys’ home. McGrath was himself married with children. Paisley later gave more versions acknowledging learning from Miss Shaw about McGrath’s homosexuality.

During this time, it is alleged by satirical magazine Private Eye, high ranking members of the Whitehall Civil Service and senior officers of the UK military were involved in the sexual abuse of boys in Kincora

People in authority knew what was going on because military intelligence officer Colin Wallace blew the whistle.

Wallace told his superiors what was happening and even put out a press release in early 1973. It stated that William McGrath was using “a non-existent evangelical mission as a front” for paedophilia. He supplied the address and phone number.

No newspaper followed this obvious lead, despite the press usually running Wallace’s propaganda briefings unedited.

The authorities did nothing about it. And sometimes they were the abusers. One was the late John Young, town solicitor at Belfast, to whom the boys’ complaints were passed. Others were councillors. Yet others were higher up politicians.

Colin Wallace exposed British Army ‘dirty tricks’ in Northern Ireland. Wallace from Co. Antrim joined the British Army in Lisburn as a public relations officer.  He quickly impressed and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the age of 31. He co-operated with shadowy campaigns run by the intelligence services, but drew, albeit without personal or professional regret, the line at a campaign to undermine and discredit the new Labour Government in Downing Street; and at efforts to cover up child sex abuse at a boys’ home run by a valued informer.

Former Army Press officer Colin Wallace, who was based in Belfast, has long insisted that the authorities knew boys were being systematically sodomised at the home six years before they decided to act.

Above: Colin Wallace (second from right) in the company of PM Ted Heath and high ranking military personel

When he refused to continue with these activities, he was fired from his job, and found himself blacklisted. He resettled in England but, when a friend there died in suspicious circumstances; he was convicted of manslaughter and spent six years in prison.

He claims that he was framed for the murder in order to silence him.

The names McGrath , Semple and Mains are widely known but it has become obvious that there are other names of powerful and well-known people who have connections with the Kincora saga and whose identities the so-called authorities have tried to keep secret since the scandal broke .

One such person who has been reported to have visited Kincora is Ted Heath , the former Conservative MP and British PM.

The abuse went on at Kincora for 20 years until finally exposed in a Dublin newspaper. Mains, Semple and McGrath went to jail—but the scale of the abuse remained hidden despite numerous inquiries.

A “private inquiry” was set up in 1982 by James Prior, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State under the Commissioner of Complaints, Stephen McGonagle, to deal with these allegations, but it collapsed after three of its members resigned. Debates on Kincora in the Northern Ireland Assembly were held on 22 March and 9 November 1983. Another inquiry, under Judge William Hughes, was then announced in January 1984.

In December 1985, Judge Hughes reported after his lengthy public inquiry. The view that there was a more extensive ‘ring’ operating at the home was not accepted. This inquiry reported many years before abuse on an extensive scale was uncovered in care homes in the Irish Republic and Britain.

PRINCE Charles’s mentor Lord Mountbatten – murdered by the IRA more than 20 years ago – has also been sensationally linked to the notorious Kincora Boys’ Home scandal in east Belfast. 

A book called ‘War ofthe Windsors’ Claims that rumours had “even linked him with the notorious scandal surrounding the Kincora Boys’ Home, where a network of teenage boys were made available to VIPs.”

It states: “Of all the recent Royals, none was so consistently immoral and unprincipled as the late Lord Mountbatten.

“Both he and his wife Edwina were bisexual, and they led a life of unbridled promiscuity.

“He was also said to have an interest in what homosexuals call ‘rough trade’ and to be particularly attracted to working-class boys in their early teens.”

Lord Mountbatten was killed in August 1979 when an IRA bomb exploded under his boat off the Co Sligo coast. Thomas McMahon, jailed for life for his part in the bombing, was freed in August 1998.

In January 1982 John McKeague (prominent Ulster loyalist who founded the paramilitary group the Red Hand Commando in 1972) was interviewed by detectives investigating Kincora about his involvement in the sexual abuse. Fearful of returning to prison McKeague told friends that he was prepared to name others involved in the paedophile ring in order to avoid a sentence. 

However on 29 January 1982, the INLA shot McKeague dead in his shop on the Albertbridge Road, East Belfast. It has been argued that following McKeague’s threats to go public about all of those involved in Kincora his killing had been ordered by Military Intelligence as many of those who could have named were also agents, and a number of them more productive than McKeague, who by that time was highly peripheral to loyalism.

To support this suggestion it has been stated that of the two gunmen who shot McKeague one was a known Special Branch agent and the other was rumoured to have Military Intelligence links.


William McGrath was a loyalist from Northern Ireland who founded the far-right organisation Tara in the 1960s


In 1971 McGrath found employment as a house master at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast. In this role McGrath established the home as a centre of child sex abuse in which he and invited friends, including Red Hand Commando founder John McKeague, regularly raped several of the boys at the home. 

NPG x166932; Sir (Samuel) Knox Cunningham, 1st Bt by Walter Bird

McGrath had contacts with Sir Knox Cunningham (pictured above) who has been linked to paedophile rings and who was a pal of Tony Blair.

In the course of the investigation surrounding the scandal, McGrath was dubbed “the Beast of Kincora” and it was alleged he had contacts with prominent politicians and political personalities in England such as Sir Anthony Blunt, who was known to McGrath through their mutual friend Sir Knox Cunningham.


Blunt (pictured above) with the queen

The investigation into the abuse began on 24 January 1980. During the investigations McGrath remained an important figure in his Orange Lodge, the “Ireland’s Heritage” Lodge, and in October 1981 was re-elected as secretary, although by this stage membership of the Lodge, which McGrath himself had named as part of his drive for a Protestant all-Ireland, had declined significantly to the point that only three people were regularly attending monthly meetings. McGrath’s case came to trial in December 1981 and, represented by Desmond Boal QC, he asked to be rearraigned, after which McGrath pleaded guilty to five charges of gross indecency, two of buggery and eight indecent assault charges. McGrath was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

MI5 allegations

In his 1999 book The Dirty WarMartin Dillon claims that McGrath may have been employed by MI5 since the 1960s, having possessed an in-depth knowledge of loyalism in Northern Ireland. According to Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, McGrath provided information on fellow loyalists after being blackmailed by MI5, who were aware of his paedophilia but took no action regarding it. Chris Moore argues that McGrath’s trade in illicit religious tracts behind theIron Curtain attracted the attention of MI6, who wanted him to smuggle propaganda into the Eastern Bloc inside the bibles. From this point on, Moore contends, McGrath was associated with various aspects of the British secret service, with MI5 becoming his sole group in the early 1970s

Glasgow Herald – Febuary 1982